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    Default "Right to Fight, Left to Live"

    I remember being taught this simple saying back in recruit school regarding fog nozzle patterns. Turn the tip to the right for a straight stream to fight the fire, and turn the fog tip to the left when faced with a rapid fire event, giving you a "fog curtain," then back out of the building.

    Why is this taught in the first place? It seems like a completely unrealistic tactic. If a crew is faced with a rapid fire event like flashover, we know that there is very little time to escape and most likely the hoseline will be abandoned immediately. Opening up a wide fog in this situation seems counter-productive and would only end in steaming the crew.

    Not having been caught in a flashover myself, has anybody here experienced a flashover? If so, did you abandon the line or did you back out systematically with the magical fog curtain keeping you safe?

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    We use a slightly different saying: "Right is RIGHT, Left for Lobster!"

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    Our mnemonic has always been "Right for Reach, Left for Life"...same basic thing. But no, opening a full fog pattern INSIDE a structure is not wise. I think this was meant more as a reminder that a full fog pattern can shield you from radiant heat if something suddenly flares up on you.

    At least in my area, when I first started we did very little interior attack. Our normal tactic was to stick the nozzle through a window on power cone and vigorously work it in an "O" pattern. In this situation as you approach the window you can keep the heat off you with a full fog pattern.

    Since we have a lot of oil and gas and chemical industry in our area, we also used to train quite a bit with local industry. Their fire classes dealt a lot more with class B fires and we used to fight some gas-fired (exterior) industrial props. Those fires had to be approched with fog patterns for protection, so some of that old-school training sort of trickled down, I guess.
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    Right is right, left to lose.

    I can see no reason EVER to use a fog stream for offensive firefighting operations in any area where yourself or other firefighters are located.

    I can see in some circumstances where you may use the pulsing technique into the overhead. But not for overall fire attack.
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    Just like any tactic in firefighter, there's a time and a place for a fog and a time and a place for a straight stream. A straight stream is great for reach and for hitting the seat of the fire. Reach is important when defensive, hitting the seat offensive and defensive.

    Fog patterns are useful for compartmentalized fires, when you're not in the compartment. It utlizes the steam conversion to your benefit. However, anyone in that compartment or in the path of where the steam is going to travel (expansion is 1700:1 at 500-degrees if I remember right, more if it's hotter) is going to get roasted.

    As far as flashover situations, I've been taught two things. If you see flashover conditions developing, a couple quick blasts of a straight stream into the super-heated gases will help cool things down and ward off a flashover, temporarily. At the same time, you get an indication as to the heat at the ceiling; water coming back down is good, water vaporizing and not coming down is bad.

    I've also been taught that if you are in a flashover, open the nozzle to a full fog and keep it right on your butt. The coolest place in that flashover is going to be where the water is coming out of that nozzles cooling the air around it. Now, this is an emergency tactic and is intended only to buy you seconds, which may be enough to get out.

    In my opinion, the best thing to do is learn the early indications of flashover and when you're getting to the point that you better be finding the seat of the fire or you better be getting out, then learning which is the better decision of the two for a particular situation. A flashover isn't a sudden event, it's progressive. If you learn what's happening as the fire evolves and the early indicators, you know when it's time to start backing out before you get caught in one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02
    We use a slightly different saying: "Right is RIGHT, Left for Lobster!"
    You left out "boiled".

    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22
    As far as flashover situations, I've been taught two things. If you see flashover conditions developing, a couple quick blasts of a straight stream into the super-heated gases will help cool things down and ward off a flashover, temporarily. At the same time, you get an indication as to the heat at the ceiling; water coming back down is good, water vaporizing and not coming down is bad.

    I've also been taught that if you are in a flashover, open the nozzle to a full fog and keep it right on your butt. The coolest place in that flashover is going to be where the water is coming out of that nozzles cooling the air around it. Now, this is an emergency tactic and is intended only to buy you seconds, which may be enough to get out.

    In my opinion, the best thing to do is learn the early indications of flashover and when you're getting to the point that you better be finding the seat of the fire or you better be getting out, then learning which is the better decision of the two for a particular situation. A flashover isn't a sudden event, it's progressive. If you learn what's happening as the fire evolves and the early indicators, you know when it's time to start backing out before you get caught in one.
    Catch... we must have attended the same academy. I don't see the defense-fog taught that much these days and it is tough to do when you have more than two guys. They taught us to hunker down facing each other with the nozzle between us, and both guys had hands on. And as you stated, it was only a last stand effort. You're most likley going to get boiled, but hopefully not seared.

    It is always better to know what you're facing and retreat before getting caught. Sometimes easier said than done, which accounts for why many still get caught in flashover.


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    Quote Originally Posted by firegeek8096 View Post
    I remember being taught this simple saying back in recruit school regarding fog nozzle patterns. Turn the tip to the right for a straight stream to fight the fire, and turn the fog tip to the left when faced with a rapid fire event, giving you a "fog curtain," then back out of the building.

    Why is this taught in the first place? It seems like a completely unrealistic tactic. If a crew is faced with a rapid fire event like flashover, we know that there is very little time to escape and most likely the hoseline will be abandoned immediately. Opening up a wide fog in this situation seems counter-productive and would only end in steaming the crew.

    Not having been caught in a flashover myself, has anybody here experienced a flashover? If so, did you abandon the line or did you back out systematically with the magical fog curtain keeping you safe?
    Most fires are residential. Most firefighters in residential fires that are dealing with rapid fire extension or a flashover are normally dealing with a compartmentalized fire with the only real and immediate danger involving the single room that they are in. That being the case, why would you abandon the line and hope for the best. Open it and put the fire out in that room!!

    Makes me want to say HELLLOOOOO.....McFly?
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    Original poster, I can answer one of your two questions. I have been in a flashover. I can't tell you about abandoning the line or staying with a fog because I didn't have a line.

    I know it was a flashover, not just a rollover which people often deal with. That is one problem I see. Guys want to puff their chest and say how they survived a flashover when really they just ducked underneath a rollover. My opinion anyway.

    I know it was a flashover because while I was searching the room ahead of the hoseline being placed I physically and mentally observed the fire work its way up the corner, fan across the ceiling, the smoke went from non existent to banked down to 2 feet, and the heat went from "mmmm it's nice in here" to "WTF!!!" in the space of approx 1-2 minutes. Further, I actually said out loud to myself "hmmm that's interesting the couch is beginning to smoke!" The other fabric objects began smoking as well as did the plastic items. That's how I know it was a flashover.

    The only thing that made me a survivor was the fact that somewhere in the midst of my observations I remembered the part about....leaving! I was within 3 feet of the door on my hands and knees when it flashed and I was tumbling down porch steps so the worst of the flash went over top of me. I spun around and indeed the room was engulfed.

    All this to say I can't tell you if I'd have opened the line or not, straight fog or combo, or simply abandoned the line. I can tell you that MemphisE34 is correct that opening up the line and putting it out is the best way to do it. However, learning the signs and symptoms and being proactive about them is even more important. If you're noticing things getting bad and you're not sure if you should fog or not, then it's probably going to be too late rather quickly.

    Stay safe all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firegeek8096 View Post
    I remember being taught this simple saying back in recruit school regarding fog nozzle patterns. Turn the tip to the right for a straight stream to fight the fire, and turn the fog tip to the left when faced with a rapid fire event, giving you a "fog curtain," then back out of the building.

    Why is this taught in the first place? It seems like a completely unrealistic tactic. If a crew is faced with a rapid fire event like flashover, we know that there is very little time to escape and most likely the hoseline will be abandoned immediately. Opening up a wide fog in this situation seems counter-productive and would only end in steaming the crew.

    Not having been caught in a flashover myself, has anybody here experienced a flashover? If so, did you abandon the line or did you back out systematically with the magical fog curtain keeping you safe?
    If you notice flashover conditions with a line around you, hopefully you are trying to extinguish the fire and don't let it get to fully developed. This way, you won't have to make the choice of whether to use the fog pattern or not. And no, the magical fog pattern will not protect you. Apply the water to the fire and it will go out. If it doesn't go out, you need more GPM on the burning fuel. If you can't get more GPM, get out. IMHO, the best way to apply GPM is with a smooth bore nozzle. 15/16" tip on an 1 3/4 line works nicely. If you really want to make an informed decision for yourself about what nozzle you need, do some research. Go get a free membership at firenuggets.com and read everything that Andy Fredericks has written about smoothbore nozzles. Just to be fair, read about Lloyd Layman, and the Iowa State fog nozzle research.

    ETA: YFDLt did a pretty good job of describing what can happen. If visibility goes to ZERO very quickly, a fire event is imminent. Don't wait around to see what else is gonna happen. Put water on the fire or vent.
    Last edited by FireStick; 02-19-2010 at 08:18 PM.

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    We teach the "Left for Life, Right for Reach" at the Overhead Storage Project at Livingston Fire School. When fighting a petroleum fire, the fog pattern will definitely keep the fire off of you if conditions rapidly deteriorate and you have to make a strategic retreat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by simpleguy68 View Post
    We teach the "Left for Life, Right for Reach" at the Overhead Storage Project at Livingston Fire School. When fighting a petroleum fire, the fog pattern will definitely keep the fire off of you if conditions rapidly deteriorate and you have to make a strategic retreat.
    Totally irrelevant to interior structural firefighting.
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    Our version is just "Right to fight", and that's it. This seems to serve us well without having to get into the debate of what left stands for.

    As long as we know what one way does, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out what the other way does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Totally irrelevant to interior structural firefighting.
    Never said it was, just commenting that there are times when it is relevant and firefighters SHOULD know what it means and when to use it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by simpleguy68 View Post
    Never said it was, just commenting that there are times when it is relevant and firefighters SHOULD know what it means and when to use it.
    This is why your flammable liquids fire comment wasn't relevant.

    I remember being taught this simple saying back in recruit school regarding fog nozzle patterns. Turn the tip to the right for a straight stream to fight the fire, and turn the fog tip to the left when faced with a rapid fire event, giving you a "fog curtain," then back out of the building.
    Structure fire. Not a flammable liquids fire. I wasn't trying to start a fight with you just stating your flammable liquids comment wasn't relevant to the original posters flashover scenario fog pattern usage.
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    We were taught on the left for life part.. If you find yourself caught in a flashover with no escape direct a wide fog into the superheated gases, yes I know this would be dire but the steam conversion would be so great that the room couldnt flash and you could then retreat. Steamed but not cooked and dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Itshotinhere View Post
    We were taught on the left for life part.. If you find yourself caught in a flashover with no escape direct a wide fog into the superheated gases, yes I know this would be dire but the steam conversion would be so great that the room couldnt flash and you could then retreat. Steamed but not cooked and dead.
    Please explain the difference between being steamed and being cooked.

    Granted I have never been caught in a flashover, but I have never been burned by the fire to the point of major bodily harm. I have however suffered very nasty STEAM burns to both ears, through the earflaps on my helmet, through the collar on my coat, AND through my Kevlar hood.

    Unless you have been steam burned to the point of losing skin, or getting huge blisters, I think your cavalier attitude about preferring to be steamed over cooked has very little basis in fact.

    For me it is trying my best to remain situationally aware and retreating when and if a flashover scenario is possible. Once outside the danger area I will direct a water stream at the ceiling in an attempt to cool the atmosphere and hopefull prevent the flashover.

    Steamed or cooked? Both suck in my opinion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Please explain the difference between being steamed and being cooked.

    Granted I have never been caught in a flashover, but I have never been burned by the fire to the point of major bodily harm. I have however suffered very nasty STEAM burns to both ears, through the earflaps on my helmet, through the collar on my coat, AND through my Kevlar hood.

    Unless you have been steam burned to the point of losing skin, or getting huge blisters, I think your cavalier attitude about preferring to be steamed over cooked has very little basis in fact.

    For me it is trying my best to remain situationally aware and retreating when and if a flashover scenario is possible. Once outside the danger area I will direct a water stream at the ceiling in an attempt to cool the atmosphere and hopefull prevent the flashover.

    Steamed or cooked? Both suck in my opinion.


    No cavalier attitude here, and yes I have had my ears burned and it sucked. By cooked I meant burned to death, what I saying about being steamed would be a last resort after everything else had failed. Sorry if I seemed carefree just trying try give imput on what we were taught on the wide fog and left for life..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Itshotinhere View Post
    No cavalier attitude here, and yes I have had my ears burned and it sucked. By cooked I meant burned to death, what I saying about being steamed would be a last resort after everything else had failed. Sorry if I seemed carefree just trying try give imput on what we were taught on the wide fog and left for life..
    I apologize for jumping on you. I was steam burned severely enough through the protective equipment I listed above that the skin fell off my earlobes and the entire rest of both of my ears were blistered. All because of a wide fog stream being directed at the ceiling in an unventilated room. I ended up punching the firefighter in the helmet to get him to stop and retreat with the crew out of the room. Fortunately they didn't get burned, but my slightly longer exposure ushering them out was enough to burn me.

    You know you are hurt when you exit the building and your almost new N6A1 Sam Houston gets tossed off your head follwed by your Scott mask and you are yelling for the line so you can cool yourself off. The added bonus for the rest of my life? My ears are incredibly sensitive to the sun, and both heat and cold.

    When I first started in the fire service we were taught to crawl into the fire room, flop on our back like a dead fish, grab the hose about 18 inches from the nozzle and with it on wide fog whip it around directing the stream at the ceiling. This did a great job of filling the room with steam and dropping all the hot, black, nasty down on us. Mind you this was for normal fire attack! Fortunately enough of us radicals read the publications and tried the straight stream fire attack method. Golly we stopped getting burned everytime we put out a fire!

    Anyways, I hope we are cool and again I aplogize for pouncing on you.
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    Hey no sweat at all. I bet that did suck being burned like that, mine was only 1st degree and it was from a fog being incorrectly used. All that said I hope and pray that me, you or anyone else never has to resort to this method.

    Later

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    Default I must be doing something wrong ???

    If I twist the tip of my nozzle to the right, the 15/16" tip falls off !!

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    Quote Originally Posted by YFDLt08 View Post
    Original poster, I can answer one of your two questions. I have been in a flashover. I can't tell you about abandoning the line or staying with a fog because I didn't have a line.

    I know it was a flashover, not just a rollover which people often deal with. That is one problem I see. Guys want to puff their chest and say how they survived a flashover when really they just ducked underneath a rollover. My opinion anyway.

    I know it was a flashover because while I was searching the room ahead of the hoseline being placed I physically and mentally observed the fire work its way up the corner, fan across the ceiling, the smoke went from non existent to banked down to 2 feet, and the heat went from "mmmm it's nice in here" to "WTF!!!" in the space of approx 1-2 minutes. Further, I actually said out loud to myself "hmmm that's interesting the couch is beginning to smoke!" The other fabric objects began smoking as well as did the plastic items. That's how I know it was a flashover.

    The only thing that made me a survivor was the fact that somewhere in the midst of my observations I remembered the part about....leaving! I was within 3 feet of the door on my hands and knees when it flashed and I was tumbling down porch steps so the worst of the flash went over top of me. I spun around and indeed the room was engulfed.

    All this to say I can't tell you if I'd have opened the line or not, straight fog or combo, or simply abandoned the line. I can tell you that MemphisE34 is correct that opening up the line and putting it out is the best way to do it. However, learning the signs and symptoms and being proactive about them is even more important. If you're noticing things getting bad and you're not sure if you should fog or not, then it's probably going to be too late rather quickly.

    Stay safe all.
    I would say you escaped a flashover, not survived one.

    Glad to know you got out alright though. Recognizing what was going on probably saved your life.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    I would say you escaped a flashover, not survived one.

    Glad to know you got out alright though. Recognizing what was going on probably saved your life.
    Excellent correction in terminology. You're correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ENG103 View Post
    If I twist the tip of my nozzle to the right, the 15/16" tip falls off !!
    Yup. Use a straight bore nozzle and the only silly sayings you have to remember are "OPEN" and "CLOSED."
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    What's sad is that there are still places where the indirect method, highlighting the 1700:1 steam conversion, is still taught? :-0

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    Quote Originally Posted by simpleguy68 View Post
    What's sad is that there are still places where the indirect method, highlighting the 1700:1 steam conversion, is still taught? :-0
    Why is that sad? The indirect method of fire attack is an acceptable and apropriate tactic in the right conditions. Firefighters should be taught any and all available tactics, as there is no one tactic that will work for every fire.

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